EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The New Mexico State and UTEP women’s basketball teams are set to embark on the 2020-21 season, which will tip-off on Wednesday afternoon with the Battle of I-10.
NMSU is coming off a disappointing season, finishing 12-18 (8-8) and losing both of their matchups against UTEP. The Miners finished last season 16-14 (8-10).
Both programs had their conference tournaments cut short in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic that will still provide challenges throughout this season.
“Our team is just hungry to play an opponent,” said UTEP head coach Kevin Baker. “In most years, UTEP and New Mexico State are rivals, but this year, we are in this fight with COVID together and we worked hard to set this game up and play. There were 1,000 challenges along the way, but we will play. In some ways, we both win.”
Baker enters his fourth season as head coach at UTEP and returns arguably the best point guard in Conference USA in sophomore Katia Gallegos. Gallegos was tabbed as one of 20 candidates for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is given to the top point guard in NCAA Division I college basketball. The El Paso native led C-USA in assists (154) as a true freshman, averaging 5.1 per game. Gallegos was the Miners’ third best scorer with 9.6 points per game.
Brooke Atkinson enters her third year as head coach at NMSU and returns a talented guard of her own in Aaliyah Prince, who was named to the preseason All-WAC first team. Prince after averaged 11.7 points per game last season and recorded three games with 20+ points.
Due to state restrictions preventing NMSU from playing or even practicing in Las Cruces, the Aggies have been forced to relocate to Arizona is preparation for the start of the season. Atkinson’s team has been practicing in Tucson since the beginning of last week.
The Miners and Aggies are regular foes having met 23 times and UTEP holding the upper hand in the all-time series with a 15-8 record. UTEP has also won seven of the last ten matchups.
Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center on Wednesday. No fans will be permitted to attend the game, but it will air on C-USA TV, a subscription based platform.